A/N: This story was written for a Sirius Black / Remus Lupin FUQ-Fest and befoer OotP was published, therefore it's now totally AU. The timeline is the summer before Harry's fifth year and Christmas of his fifth year.
The challenge was that Harry was supposed to spend the summer with Remus and Sirius and I mixed another part of a challenge in, which was that either Remus or Sirius was to have a child from a former partner.
1. Lie low at Lupin's
"Remus! I think your guest has arrived - did you say a big, black dog?" The woman shouted, turning back into the house.
Sirius sat frozen. He wanted to run away again, away from this house, which held a woman who seemed to live here, where his Remus lived. Then the message reached his brain that she seemed to know about him. He dared to throw a glance up and saw a smiling face with blue-brown eyes. She was quite tall, well built and had short brown hair. Her face had a fair amount of freckles and there were some auburn strands in her hair. She opened the door fully and said:
"Well, come on in. We haven't been introduced, but I know you're Sirius Black. I'm Anna..."
While the dog padded inside, Remus came flying down the stairs, as fast as he could with a small child on his hips. Another child came pounding down the stairs right behind him. Sirius' heart stood almost still. He hardly dared to look at the two adults, let alone the two children who greeted him.
Then Remus just passed the little one over to Anna, knelt down next to Sirius and embraced the dog. He buried his face in the matted fur and almost cried.
"Padfoot, Padfoot, my love, finally you're here, after all these years I'll be holding you again!"
Sirius' ears perked up. Did Remus just use an endearment like 'my love'? He decided to look his old friend into the eyes and found the same kind of affection in them as he had known so many years ago. Sirius was thoroughly confused and looked from Remus to Anna and then back, but Remus remained next to him and smiled. He scratched the dog behind the ears until the little girl came closer and asked:
"Daddy, what's that dog? Do you know him?"
"Yes, Ronja, I know him. Come closer, he won't bite. He's big, I know, but he's kind and has a huge heart. You'll meet his human self in just a moment."
Ronja didn't seem to be afraid and when she looked into the blue eyes of the dog she noticed his friendliness. Sirius sniffed and gave the girl's cheek a lick. That made everyone laugh and a bit of the tension that had started to build up immediately seemed to vanish again.
"Siri, please transform, so we can talk!" Remus said softly.
A moment later, Sirius sat in the place of the dog. He looked around and managed a:
The smaller child, Sirius hadn't yet been able to determine whether it was a girl or a boy, crawled back into Remus' lap. Remus held him tightly and said soothingly:
"No need to be afraid, Rashid, this is Sirius. He's a very old friend of mine. Come on everybody, let's go to the living room and let's get something to eat for poor Snuffles, he must be starving!"
Remus got up from the floor, lifting Rashid back on his hip and offered Sirius a hand. Sirius got up as well, though he seemed to have a bit of a problem with it. Remus gave him a quick once over and decided that he looked a bit better than in the previous summer. They had exchanged about half a dozen letters, but nothing personal had been discussed.
"I'll get Sirius something to eat, you two talk," muttered Anna and made straight for the kitchen, before Remus could.
Sirius followed Remus to the living room. The house wasn't large, but spacious enough. It wasn't new either, it must have been standing on that hill for a while already, but Sirius knew well enough why Remus would choose a house so far away from the next village. They sat down and Ronja, who had followed them, settled down with a dollhouse to play.
"You're probably wondering..." Remus started.
Sirius looked down at his tightly clasped hands and said:
"I don't think I have the right to..."
"Yes, you do! Sirius, you're my bond-mate. We were meant to stay together for the rest of our lives!"
"So what happened? Apart from the little fact that they took me to Azkaban?"
"Moony happened. He took it out on me so badly that I found myself at St. Mungo's several times, because dad couldn't heal me himself. And there was Anna. She's a mediwitch and she used to patch me up every time my dad had to bring me there. Anna - she's been very open-minded and understanding. She knew about the wolf of course, she had seen first hand what it did to me, but she fell in love with me in spite of the wolf. We got married seven years ago. Then we had Ronja. She's almost six now, in fact her birthday is in a week. Rashid was born a few months before I went to Hogwarts. He'll be three in November."
"They look a lot like you..."
"I think, they are a lot like me. Especially Ronja. But then I missed so much of Rashid when he was a baby. I really missed both of them while I was at Hogwarts."
"I'm sorry, Remus. I'm so sorry," Sirius said in a tight voice.
He had a very sad and lost look in his eyes, which looked deadened still. His hands shook badly and Remus knew he had been through some very tight moments.
"Whatever for, Padfoot?" Remus asked softly.
"For putting you through all this. Moony... - I'd probably better go..."
"No, Sirius, stay! It's not all. Anna and I - well, the marriage hasn't worked out at all. It's not her fault, or even really mine, but more mine of course. There's the wolf who didn't like it at all even though she cared for me after my transformations. She's not you, Sirius! We're already heading in the direction of a divorce. It's not that we're fighting. It's just that even before Rashid was born she already knew this wasn't working out. In a way we stayed together because of the children. But then I learned that you were innocent and ever since last summer we've more or less been over. It was better that way. We've tried hard, but..." Remus trailed off.
Sirius stared at him. Then he looked down on his hands again and said:
"I've never been able to stop loving you, Remus, even though the Dementors didn't let me remember anything but the fights. But this helped me remember you and that we did have a relationship."
"I'm glad you say that, Padfoot! I'm glad you don't keep that inside of you, because I needed to hear that. I still love you, too. I've always loved you and I always will."
"But - Anna..."
Remus shook his head. He watched Ronja taking Rashid out of the living room and into the garden beyond it and called:
"Stay inside the garden, please, Ronja! And watch out for your little brother!"
"I will, Daddy!"
"They are the reason why I will never regret this marriage, Siri. I love them so much. I never really expected to have a family, but now I have two really wonderful children, it's hard to even start to describe what they mean to me. They have changed my life so much! For them I'm a good person."
"I'm happy for you, Remus. I'm sure you are a wonderful father… Do they know about the wolf?"
"They know I'm a werewolf. I'm transforming in a small one-room shed in the garden. Well, it's a lot larger than a garden shed, it's a comfortably large room. I've done fairly well, though I haven't been able to get jobs in the wizarding world, I've had that small inheritance and we've sold the big house which I inherited from my Mum, that helped for a start. I've invested about half of the money and it's been a lucky punch, so I've done quite well. Anna's paid well at St. Mungo's. She's never stopped working..."
Then Anna brought something for Sirius to eat. She must have been a good cook, Sirius decided, because he was treated with a fine soup, made freshly with potatoes and leek, followed by some roast chicken with chips and salad and when he had finished all that she brought him fresh strawberries. He thanked her warmly:
"Thanks a lot. That was the best thing I got to eat in the past fourteen years! Which doesn't say much, I know, but you seem to be a great cook!"
"Thanks, Sirius. Yes, I like to cook."
She sat down on one of the armchairs and looked out to the garden, where the children played. Ronja had her toy broom out and was zooming over the lawn. Rashid had settled for the sand pit, where he occupied himself 'baking' cup cakes out of sand. Remus looked at her and said:
"You look off, Anna, is it because Sirius is here?"
She shook her head and replied:
"No. No, that's rather your fault, Remus, Sirius certainly has nothing to do with it."
"What? What have I done?" Remus was a bit shocked.
"Rather what have you - or we - NOT done, Remus..."
He was confused. All of a sudden it seemed to dawn on him and he asked:
"You mean, we forgot the charms?"
"15 weeks. - Hey, you should know that!"
"It makes you unhappy, doesn't it?"
"Well, I didn't exactly crave for it, you know! Whatever it's going to be, it's going to stay with you, as will Ronja and Rashid, when I move out."
Anna got up and left the room. Sirius stared after her and then at Remus. Remus sighed. He closed his eyes.
"What was that?" Sirius asked cautiously.
"That was our last attempt to salvage our relationship. She made the outcome quite clear, didn't she?"
"So you'll have another baby..."
"Around Christmas. - I'm not afraid of that, Sirius. I can take one more in. Not that they'll have too much, but they'll certainly have all my love."
"I'll help you if I can... if you let me..."
Remus looked at him. Then he smiled back.
"Yes, you'll help me. For the moment you'll have the guest room. It's a nice room next to the study. Anna has already been looking for another place to stay. She won't have a problem finding something closer to St. Mungo's."
Remus sat up a little straighter, then he closed the distance to Sirius and kissed him tenderly on the lips. Sirius stared at him and when Remus let go, he stammered:
"You... really... want me... back? After everything? Are you sure?"
"Yes, Sirius, I'm sure. There's nothing I'd rather do than trying to get together with you again. Anna knew that we were bonded. She knew you had been my lover. She knew we had been as good as married, and she also always knew that I still loved you. I didn't need to tell her, she had done some reading about werewolves. She's been making the Wolfsbane potion for me since it has been invented, you know."
"I've been wondering - what does it do, this potion?"
"It subdues the wolf so much, that I can keep control. I'm thinking my human thoughts, I'm reacting to being spoken to and I don't feel any rage or thirst for blood. It's been a gift from heaven for me."
"But you still transform?"
"Yes, I still transform and it's still painful, other than that I don't have any problems. And that's also why I'm secluding myself still, I'm lashing out in the pain of the transformation. That's still dangerous, because at that time Moony is very unpredictable, so it's better to stay away from others."
Sirius finally put his arms around Remus and pulled him close. Just then Ronja came back inside and called:
"Daddy! What are you and Sirius doing?"
They drove apart faster than they could blink. Both were blushing deeply, but then Remus called Ronja over and said:
"Ronja, Sirius will be staying with us."
"When Mum goes away?"
"Yes, and until Mum goes away. But you are not allowed to say to anyone that Sirius is here, do you understand? It's most important that no one knows he's here. Only we are allowed to know."
"It's not as if I'd saw many people, Daddy."
"No, you don't, I know. I'm sorry for that, love, but you are going to school now, so you could slip something to someone and this is something that you are not allowed to do at all. This has to remain our family's secret, do you understand?"
"Yes, Daddy, if it's our family's secret, like the wolf, then I won't say anything. - But why? Because you've been doing things like you've done with Mum?"
"No, sweetheart, that would not be the reason. Do you want to hear a story?"
"Oh yes, I do. Always- RASHIIIIIIID! Come in, Daddy is telling a story!" she called to the outside and only a minute later, a small, rather sandy boy turned up on the terrace. Remus got up, pulled his wand and said:
"Wait right there, Rashid, I don't want your sand inside of the house!"
Remus performed a cleaning spell, then he returned to his place on the sofa next to Sirius.
"Okay, I'm going to tell you both a story, but after that we really have to go and find something better for Sirius to wear and he might enjoy a bath or shower."
"Okay, Daddy, but tell us your story now!" demanded Ronja.
Rashid climbed on Remus' lap. Remus held him tightly, then he started to tell them the story.
"This story starts long before I met your Mum. You remember when I told you the story how I met your Mum, don't you?"
"Yes, I do," said Ronja.
"Well, now this is the story of four boys at Hogwarts. One of them was a rather tiny boy of eleven years, he wasn't really shy, just not used to many people around, and he was as curious for stories and books as you are, Ronja, so you know how much he liked stories. His parents had put him on the train and he was going to Hogwarts. He had not expected to ever see a school. His parents had never even told him much about the school because they feared he would never see it."
"Was that little boy you, Daddy?" Ronja asked.
"Yes, Ronja, that little boy was me. You know what caused our living outside of inhabited areas, it was the wolf. Now when I got to Hogwarts and was sorted into Gryffindor I had to share my dormitory with three other boys. I had never lived with other children in such close proximity and I was a bit scared. Nevertheless we soon became friends, it just took a while to get used to each other. Only they never knew that there was a werewolf living with them. It was hard for me to keep my secret. Everyday I wanted to tell them, so I didn't need to tell them lies anymore. I wanted to tell them, but I knew from experience that they would hate me and that I might have to leave the school if I did. So I kept the secret. Until one day early in our second year two of the other three boys came to me and told me that they knew about me. The two boys were James and Sirius. They said they knew and I was terrified what they would be saying, or worse, doing to me. And then Sirius said he didn't mind at all, he only minded that I had not told them. But once I had told them what I had experienced earlier they understood why I had tried to keep this a secret. And once all three of them knew about me and the wolf I was happier than I had ever been before.
The years passed and when we had started our fifth year at Hogwarts Sirius took me to the place I went to when I transformed. I wondered what he wanted there, as he knew how much I hated the place. But he wanted to show me something. In the summer vacation before our fifth year he and James had managed to become Animagi. These are witches or wizards who are able to turn themselves into an animal. And he transformed into the dog. It was the first time I got to see Padfoot, that's what we named the dog, and I was so happy I thought I couldn't get any more happy. You see, my three friends, yes, the third, Peter, later also mastered the transformation, did this so they were able to spend the nights of the full moon with me. They knew full well they couldn't be with me when I was a wolf, so they were with me as animals and it worked splendidly. Sirius became the dog, James was a beautiful stag and Peter turned into a small rat."
"So that is the secret? That he's a dog?" asked Ronja.
Remus shook his head and chided:
"You are impatient, little one- No, that's not the secret, only a part of it. They told no one about it. It's a very difficult bit of magic, you know and no one would have even thought they would be able to do it. But they did.
Now Moony and I being the canine we are had always liked Sirius a little more than everyone else. Ever since I had learned to know him I had loved him. Like a brother at first, but with the time I knew I loved him like a Daddy loves a Mum. Even though it's not that rare for a boy to love another boy I thought he wouldn't ever want to know that, because I was a werewolf. I didn't think I deserved happiness with another being who would love me. I expected to live my life alone. But Sirius - well, he started to like me just as much and in the same way. So we became boyfriends."
"Oh, oh, oh... you must be nice, if Daddy loves you, Sirius!" said Ronja.
"Daddy loves Rashid!" Rashid protested.
"Of course he loves you, but not the same way, you baby!" Ronja told her little brother off.
Rashid pushed his tongue out at his sister. Remus put his hand on his little mouth and said:
"That's very rude, Rashid and I won't have it! Do you want to hear the end of the story?"
"Yes, Daddy," Rashid said meekly.
"Good. Sirius and I became what we adults call lovers. As I am a werewolf this meant he became my bonded mate. It was always very hard to be away from him, and only when he was near me did I really feel well. We didn't mind and after school we lived together in a flat. But as you know there were very bad people trying to rule the world in those years and we were caught in the middle of that war. We fought, all four of us and the wife of James. Lily was her name. Lily then had a baby son named Harry. The three of them were supposed to be killed by the bad people so it was decided to hide them. To do this with a charm they needed a person to keep their secret and they chose Sirius to be that person. Now we all believed that it really was Sirius who was guarding their secret, and when James and Lily were attacked and killed only a week after they had been hidden it was quite clear that their secret must have been given away. Now of course it meant that Sirius had betrayed his friends. Especially when he had been tracked down by Peter who was killed in the process along with a dozen Muggles. Sirius was taken to Azkaban and sentenced for life."
"He left you behind?" Ronja asked with wide eyes and glared at Sirius who cringed under her glare.
"Yes, he did. But he didn't have a choice. And for nearly thirteen years I believed he had really done this all. After he had been taken to Azkaban my transformations were the worst I had ever had to endure in my life. Do you remember when I told you how I had learned to know your Mum? It was at St. Mungo's where I sometimes found myself after especially rough transformations. Anna was a very young mediwitch, still an apprentice, really, and she healed all of my wounds every time. She had been told I was a werewolf, but that didn't stop her from falling in love with me. We got married and then we had you, my joy."
"That's what Ronja means, isn't it?"
"Yes, Ronja, that's because you are my joy! And do you remember when I went back to Hogwarts to teach there when Rashid was just a baby?"
"Yes." Ronja's face darkened for a moment.
"Sirius had been able to escape from Azkaban and we all thought he was going to look for Harry, to kill him. But at the end of that year last summer we found out that he was really looking for the true traitor, Peter Pettigrew, our fourth school friend who no one would have suspected of being either, a Death Eater or the Potter's Secret Keeper. We, that is Harry, his friends Ron, Hermione and I, learned that Peter wasn't dead at all. We saw him there, but he got away. So there's the secret, why you are not allowed to talk about Sirius to anyone! He is still on the run, still searched for by the Ministry of Magic, and if he should be caught, he'll be as good as killed."
Now Ronja moved closer to Sirius and stroked his cheek. He smiled at her and then she said:
"I won't tell anyone that you're here. Do you love my Daddy then?"
"Yes, Ronja, I do."
"Good. Because he needs someone to love him. Mummy wants to go away."
"She'll still be here for a while, to find a place on her own, love. And you will be able to visit her often."
"Are we staying with you here?" Ronja asked.
"Yes, Ronja, you will stay with me."
Upon that the little girl jumped away from Sirius and next to Remus on the sofa. She hugged her father and said:
"I'm happy then, Daddy. I do want to stay with you. And you won't go away anymore?"
"I will have to go away sometimes, love, but if I can I will take you both with me."
'And one more,' Sirius thought.
Ronja and Rashid left them again after a while. Remus got up and while they went up the stairs to the bathroom, Sirius asked Remus:
"When are you going to tell them about the baby?"
"Not before it's visible. Ronja has a better sense of time now, she could probably live with it if we told her now, but Rashid wouldn't know what it means when we say around Christmas. He can't grasp longer stretches of time than a day or two yet, and even that is difficult. If I promise them to go out with them next weekend he'd pester me every day if it wasn't time to go yet."
"Oh, I see... makes sense."
"Well, now, let's make you a bit more presentable. You look dreadful, you know! Still way too thin you are!"
"I know. What can I do? Rats aren't exactly fattening..."
"How could you even eat one of them?"
"Thinking it's Pettigrew every time," Sirius said, growling.
"So what did Dumbledore tell you to do now?"
"Stay here and wait for further instructions."
"Okay. He's already sent me some stuff to research. I'm using the Avalon Academy library, which luckily remains open to every former student. I know the librarian well there, so I can get out anything."
"You're busy then..."
"I am. You can help me, though."
"I don't even have a wand."
"We'll see to that, too, you need one again. Only I think if you want it from Ollivanders, you'd better leave it to Dumbledore, he'll be able to get it from the old codger rather than me. If I walk in there and ask for a wand with your specifics, you can bet he'd know it's for you in no time."
The rest of the afternoon was spent getting Sirius clean and cooking dinner for the family. Remus took over and when he called the children inside he sent Ronja up to call her Mum.
"And wash your hands thoroughly on the way!"
Remus took care of his son again and cleaned him magically. Once they were at the table, Sirius looked at the children a bit closer. Both had brown hair and both had brown eyes. Both looked a lot like Remus in their faces. They were very cute children, Sirius decided, but then he expected only nice children from his lover. The same way Remus was an excellent teacher he seemed to be a very good father. He was fairly strict with Ronja and Rashid, but he showed them how much he loved them, so they listened to him and usually followed his orders.
After dinner Anna excused herself. She said she was on duty at St. Mungo's and apparated away to work. Remus cleaned up the kitchen with a few spells and called the children to get ready for bed. Sirius went up with them to watch. They washed up in the bathroom, brushed their teeth and finally Remus took first Rashid to his room to put him into a nappy and his pyjamas.
"He's dry during the day, but still needs the nappies for the night. Well, you're first, my sweet, off to bed!"
"I want a story, Daddy!"
"You're getting your story, love, just hop into your bed now."
Remus fetched a book with stories about Merlin. He read a chapter to his son, but Rashid fell asleep before it was even finished. Remus smiled, closed the book and covered his little son. Then he left the room and pulled the door almost closed. He went to get his daughter. She had already undressed and was in her pyjama, so he just pointed to her room with his finger and she came up the stairs.
"Your turn, young lady! Off to bed!"
Ronja got her goodnight story, too, even though she could already read on her own. She still liked Remus to tell her a story. He kissed her on her forehead, covered her up and said:
"Sleep well, my little darling and have sweet dreams."
"G'night, Daddy, g'night, Sirius," she mumbled, already half asleep.
While they left the room, Remus whispered to Sirius:
"I just love summer! They are mostly outside and that usually tires them so out that they sleep very nicely!"
"You seem to have figured that parenting bit out..."
"Some days I'm not so sure, believe me. They can drive you nuts! But they're basically good kids. I was close to giving myself up before I got together with Anna and when Ronja came... it just meant I had a reason to live again."
They went down the stairs and Remus showed Sirius his room.
"I've been up in the attic and dug out the boxes of your stuff. There were lots of your clothes, and at least jeans, t-shirts and shirts aren't out of fashion yet."
Sirius looked at himself and grinned.
"Somehow I thought that what you gave me to wear was somewhat familiar."
"Well, I'd say you'd fit into my clothes, but you're still taller than I am, so you'd look a bit funny..."
"This is a nice room, Moony, thank you!"
Sirius pulled Remus into a hug and kissed him. Remus' arms came around Sirius' waist and he opened his mouth a tiny bit, which Sirius took as an invitation to deepen the kiss and seek out the other man's tongue. Remus tilted his head a bit to grant Sirius better access. He felt his heart pound and was sure, Sirius could feel it just as well. And Sirius did, but he loved to feel it. He felt the life and the love Remus had for him through that heavily beating heart. He also felt aroused. Something he had not encountered since weeks and maybe months before the events of Halloween night 1981. Remus could feel it, too. He opened his eyes and stared up at the beloved face, while his own body quickly started to response to Sirius' kiss and his hands on Remus' back. Sirius broke the kiss and buried his face on Remus' shoulder.
"Oh god, Remy, it's just been too long - I didn't know anymore how good it felt to be held in your arms. How I need that and how I missed it."
"I love you, Paddy. I love you so much it hurts!"
Remus started to guide Sirius to his bed. It was a four poster, too big for the room, but right now they really didn't care as it seemed to be just the right size for their activities. Remus took a deep breath, then started to undress Sirius. Before he could start on himself he heard someone calling through the floo in the living room. Remus jumped up.